By Sybil Cummin, MA, LPC, ACS
You have been working with a client for several months and feel completely frustrated and stuck. What the heck is going on? I’m not a bad therapist, am I? Nope, this client must be resistant to real change, right? Hmmm. As you are doubting yourself and your client’s motivations, you might be missing something much more basic. Something we learned in the early stages of our training to become mental health professionals.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was developed in 1943 by Abraham Maslow and represents a shift in thinking about people’s motivation and psychology from a more “what is wrong with you, why can’t you reach your potential” to a more “what do you need to reach your potential.” His model can be seen as a pyramid (see the image below) where the most basic needs are seen in the bottom of the pyramid and the more complex or growth needs are pictured at the top. So, basically, we need to have our physiological needs met before we work our way up to improving our self-esteem and self-actualization (realizing our full individual potential). Do you remember this from one of those developmental classes or classes on theory?